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Hi all, first post here and I would like some feedback on my first recorded game. My analysis wasn't very deep because I'm not good at long term improvement and piece harmony. My positional understanding sucks and therefore my attention (and depth move) span is low unless it involves forced positions and tactics.
My opening knowledge is almost abysmal and I just play moves until things get serious and then spend the rest of the game trying to fix my mistakes. I think this game is a typical example of this. Based just on this game, what do you think are my greatest weaknesses? What books or exercises would you recommend to improve on those aspects?
Regarding post-game analysis, how much time do you spend analysing your games and how can you make the most of chess engines?
Seeme to me that despite you being quite self-critical of your opening moves, after 18. Qxd7 the position is really rather equal. White then plays Bh3 and you play Qc7!. It's just a blunder. If you play 19. cxd4, for example, then white has a slightly better center but you have resolved your backward c pawn and you have an open file to try to penetrate with your rooks. So, although you are critical of your positional play, it is a tactical mistake (19. Qc7!) that puts you in trouble.
The next move of interest to me is white's 25. Nd4. That seems a very nice square for the white. It threatens b5 but also Ne6 forking queen and rook. I can see why you like 26. ... Nc6 because it would be nice to get rid of that knight on d4; but it would have been another tactical mistake, allowing white to win another pawn with 27. Nxb5. I may have thought about 26. ... Bxd4 27. Bxd4 Nc6; it gives up the bishop pair but you do get rid of that knight.
I think that sometimes you are worrying about things that are never going to happen. As you say, you worried about a Bh3 skewer. You have also been talking about the queen protecting e7 when the knight on e7 is never under threat.
As you say, 28. ... Nf5 is not great (allowing the pin) but Nc6 (which you mentioned again) would still lose a pawn.
As you say, 31. c3 was white's first biggish error and you then miss 31. ... Nxg3+. You would win your pawn back with this move. I am not sure white would have much of an advantage. I think I would have played Nxg3+.
When you played 32. ... Rb8 I think I wuld have taken the bishop with the knight on f5.
38. ... Qxb3 is an interesting move. I think white must have missed this and it's quite a serious blunder because now the rook on d1 is en pris and white misses that too. So, 38. Rd1! has to be considered a major blunder. Perhaps white should have played 38. Re1 after which he could have responded to Qxb3 with Bxf6.
To say that 39. Qe1 was a better move than 39. Bxf6 is understatement of the year!! 39. Bxf6 is a game losing move.
My advice to you would be to check, double check and treble check, just before you play a move, can the opponent take a piece, take a pawn, or deliver a check? If so, make sure you have an appropriate response. It's easier said to done; if you look at some of my games you'll see I am not always able to follow my own advice. But you nearly lost this game because of a couple of silly small errors. You only won because white made a mega blunder.
Thank you for your comments.
Judging by my opponent's reaction, he had forgotten of the b3 pawn. And it was just convenient for me that he happened to play Rd1 and then blunder the rook.
Like you said, I only won because my opponent made a huge mistake. The way I see my games is how well I played and not whether I won. And this game bothers me regarding all the mistakes and inferior moves I made.
Corum already hit on this point but your mindset is far too defensive/conservative/negative. Of course it's definitely wise to play safe and cautious moves but there is a limit!
After black castles I think the positon is pretty much equal - you certainly don't have a bad position! The a6/b5 idea is an interesting one. It leaves holes on a5 and c5 but white isn't going to be able to utilise them in the neat future. Meanwhile you are expanding on the queenside and later you could consider moving the knight from c6 and playing things like c5, further expanding on the queenside.
I think your biggest problem is that you worry too much about defending pieces that don't need to be defended. Of course there is a chess principle that says keep all your pieces defended, but I would say this rule only really applies to pieces that are "out in the open" and hence vulnerable to threats/tactics from the other player.
For example, you say on the comment to your 9th move that you would need to play Rb8 to guard the b7 bishop but also your rook should stay to guard the a6 pawn. I don't think these thoughts should even be going through your head! a6 and b7 are squares completely inaccessible to white for the foreseeable future, so it's perfectly fine to have nothing guarding b7.
Another example is your comment after 14. Re1 where you say you have to keep an eye on your Ne7. The e-file is completely closed and it will take several moves for the file to open (if it ever opens) so there's no need to worry about your knight, especially considering two pieces are defending it! Upon seeing Re1 it's fine to make a brief mental note (and nothing more than that) of "white might be planning to open the e-file in the future" or "white is reinforcing e4", but there's no need to go into panic mode about your knight which is sitting among a fortress of pawns and pieces on e7.
This mindset makes your play far too passive. Instead of passively defending everything in fear of potential attacks from white that will often never happen, you should be aiming to make your own goals work. If my opponent makes a move with a threat or goal in mind, my priority is to look for moves that ignore their threat/goals while getting on with my own plan. Of course, some threats cannot be ignored and one must take a move or two to deal with them, but quite often you should be getting on with your own plans and aiming to show your opponent that your ideas are more effective than his!
I am focusing on the negatives here, but overall I think you played a pretty good game. After white blundered with Bxf6 you played very accurately, which goes to show that if you have little/nothing to worry about, you can call the shots and make your opponent bow to your plans instead of the other way round.
Yes, you are correct. I saw it differently after corum's points.I don't entirely agree with the statement that I played a pretty good game overall. Considering the level of my opponent, maybe. I've noticed that when I play solidly from the beginning and gain the upper hand, my following moves tend to be sharper and my plans clearer. However, a lot of the time my opening is of supbar standards and I spend most of the game playing to my opponent's whims.
I can get an overall picture of the board and start asking questions (e.g. best way to neutralise threats, equalise, attack, etc). The problem is that sometimes (especially under pressure) I can look at a move for 20 minutes and not be able to see the consequences two moves ahead. It's like I know what the question is but I can't find a good (any) answer.In retrospect regarding my opponent, I would have played more aggressively had I been in his shoes. Another thing I frequently do is to initiate exchanges if I feel my opponent has a slight advantage. This is to get rid of some complications and be able to focus on simpler problems once the dust has settled. However, most of the time this results to me getting shredded. I did play very passively in this game and this delay may have been all I needed to take advantage of a decisive mistake.The overall reason I wasn't satisfied with my play was that I don't want to depend on my opponent's level and possible mistakes. Even if I am defending I want to know I played as best as I can. This is definitely not that idea I had of this game.Redundant thoughts are reduntant. Anyway, thanks again.
I typically play a lot of games at once. I often have 50 games on the go at any one time so I don't analyse them all. I would play fewer games and analyse them all if I was really determined to improve. But though I want to improve, I also want to have fun. And I have fun by playing lots of chess games.
If I am going to analyse a game I send it to the chess.com analysis software when the game is finished. I normally get the analysis about 3-4 hours after I submit it so it is quite quick. I then go through the game with the aid of an opening book and a chess engine on my machine which is use to try to understand why chess.com engine says one move is good or bad and also to see if I missed anything obvious. I then produce a written analysis. I think this is important - I use Sigma Chess to produce the written analysis as an annoated game but you could use any software. Sometimes I even record the analysis as a video and out it on youtube - this is an example http://chesstutorblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/25/french-defence/
I do think looking back at your own games in this way is important.
Though you played a good game, I did point out above a number of moves you could have made differently so I agree that you need to work on this. Against a better rated opponent you probably would not have fared so well.
Why are you worried about so many threats at every position? Only worry about threats that can materialize. It saves time.
For eg. at 14 Re1, you talk about the N on e7. That threat will take a long combination to materialize. Are there more immediate threats instead?
You should study openings
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